The Mamiya C220: Best Bang for the Buck

My Mamiya C2 is balky at best.  The lens is good, the shutter strong, but it is unreliable in its film advance.  I’m not sure if it’s something I can fix, so rather than send it in and have it repaired, I bid on a C220 on eBay.  I have used the C220 before; it’s a big thing, much larger than other twin-lens reflexes, but it has advantages that make it preferable over other cameras.

First, the film transports straight across the film plane rather than rolling from the bottom of the camera, making loading easier and reducing the possibility that something will get onto the rollers and scratch the film.

Second, the camera has a metered advance and double-exposure protection, so although you have to manually cock the shutter after winding the film, you know that if it lets you shoot you’re not going to double expose.  (Yes, I know that double-exposure is POSSIBLE, but in general use it’s not.)  The C220’s big sister, the C330 — which I do not own — cocks the shutter with the winder as well, but it’s considerably heavier than the C220.  Considering that the lenses are exactly the same, it’s a bit of a no-brainer to get the C220 over the C330.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the lenses are interchangeable.  This, to me, is important as I like to do many different kinds of shooting and while being stuck with one focal length can be a challenge, sometimes I like having a wide-angle or a telephoto available for more versatility.   Couple that with the fact that the C220 can take any of the wide range of Mamiya TLR lenses (even the very early ones), the bulletproof Seikosha shutters and the beautiful glass, and you have a real winner.

A while back, I took the C220 downtown to play with it.  I don’t shoot it as much as perhaps I should, but here are some images.

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True or Pfalz? Either Way, It’s a Beautiful Airplane

So I got to see the rollout of a magnificent replica Pfalz D.XII World War I fighter plane. This airplane is a 16-year labor of love, built by a father and son out at Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. From the outside, it is virtually indistinguishable from the original, and as far as anyone knows this is the first time this airplane has ever been built in replica. A number of originals still exist, but this is the only replica.

Congratulations to the people who created this beautiful machine. I would love to see it fly, though at the present time that doesn’t look likely.

The entire gallery can be seen here.

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Trip to Missouri, Day 3

Goodness there’s a lot to write about. Our hotel had some more fellows guarding the place. The gent with the pick looks more like a baseball player than a miner, with that focused stare of a heavy-hitting batter. But his Native American friend looks a little wooden.

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Before leaving Trinidad, Colorado, we decided to walk around a little. Trinidad is a cool town. It was a mining town before the mines shut down, and I’m not quite sure what the economy is built on today. Apparently Bat Masterson was town marshal there for a while. It’s full of nifty old buildings, nice people, and nifty old buildings. I particularly like the fact that some of the streets are paved with bricks that seem to be locally made, as they are stamped “Trinidad.” The town has a proper courthouse and a beautiful building that turned out to be the funeral home (why is it that one of the prettiest buildings is always the funeral home?).

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

If you ever go to Trinidad, go to the cafe that is part of Danielson’s Dry Goods at 135 Main Street. This place is amazing, and it has a mocha that is TO.DIE.FOR. Seriously. Even if you’re just driving through Trinidad, go there. They also have free wi-fi.

So we headed out of town, and there’s just so much to see on the road. There’s this little building that was once some sort of store, I think, but it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. It does have some cool dandelions, but the interior of the building is filled with junk. There’s just nothing around it, really, except grassland. Miles and miles of grassland.

There was also a memorial on the side of the road to the crews of a couple of B-24 Liberator bombers that collided during World War II at this spot.

And continuing on the WWII thread, just past that odd little building there was a vehicle sitting off in the ditch, attached to a trailer with spools of telephone wire. Obviously someone was running new phone lines and this red thing was what they were using. As we drive by, I just glanced at it and kept going, but something about it seemed “off” and it just kept niggling at me. A mile or so down the road, it hit me that the vehicle was a WWII era M3 halftrack troop carrier! I’ve heard of these things being used civilly but never seen one still in use before. Most of the ones I’ve seen are restored to their military configuration. So I had to go back and shoot it.

halftrack

halftrack

We passed a tiny little airport that had a total of one Super Cub parked outside, but the local sprayer outfit had the cutest mailbox.

The Super Cub sports a registration that, if it’s been continuous, is listed in a 1966 accident with the FAA. It’s fun to look up N-numbers of planes I see 🙂

Oh yeah, and keep the mailbox in mind. You’ll see it again later, in a slightly different guise.

A WHOLE lot of nothing later, we hit Kansas and started seeing oil pumps. I never knew Kansas is an oil-producing place. My main question is, why are we letting BRITISH PETROLEUM pump oil here? Don’t we need our own oil?

We got to Garden City, a place I had never heard of. Wendy saw a sign for the Garden City Regional Airport, and as we are both airplane people, we decided to go see what was there. I mean, what could be at Garden City? “Maybe they have a restaurant,” I joked, since we spend a lot of time at the restaurants at Phoenix Deer Valley and Glendale airports. She laughed, and said, “What could be at Garden City?” This sign greeted us as we pulled in… and we laughed some more.

We got to see the Piaggio outside and some little stuff rolling around, and eat a fantastic Italian meal. I mean, this place is GOOD.

Piaggio

So on to Dodge City, Kansas. It was a relief to get there, as there’s not a whole lot in Kansas except cows. This is all one feed lot:

In Dodge City, there’s a B-26 Invader on a post, that seems to be the favorite roost (and restroom) of about 265,344 pigeons.

There were also about a million jackrabbits and these cool longhorn cattle, which are apparently descended from the herds that were driven in the great cattle drives in the Wild West days. We met a really nice gent on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle who told us all about the Invader and also about the cows.

So we drove up to the airport itself, and there’s a total of one airplane there. But it’s the REAL version of the mailbox we saw earlier. How cool is this?

Air Tractor

And so on out of Dodge City. These steely cowboys came out to say goodbye:

Cowboys

But the day wasn’t over yet. We ran across a wind farm. These things are so beautiful to watch; I don’t know why anyone would NOT want them around. The windmills are grand to look at, with a magnificence that must be seen to be understood. I could watch them all day. And in the fading light of the sunset, they look especially serene.

windmills

windmills

Finally, after passing farmers burning the fields they just harvested,

fire

we pulled in to Hutchinson, Kansas for the night. Whew. Long drive, but it’s worth it. I haven’t been across this part of the United States before, and it shows me how great our nation truly is. On this July 4th weekend, it’s especially meaningful to see the purple mountains’ majesty and the amber waves of grain.

And lots of cows.

The Verdict on the New Toy: The F-word

I know that to some photographers, the F-word is “Film.” Not to me. I love old cameras and shooting film, and I know there are many out there who feel the same way. Film is FUN; I personally believe that film will never totally disappear as a photographic medium. It may become primarily a medium for art photographers, but I don’t think it will ever go away completely.

When I bought this old Contaflex at Goodwill, I was hoping that the superb cosmetic condition of the camera was indicative of its mechanical condition. So I took some throwaway Fuji 100 print film and ran it through my Contaflex when the Collings Foundation’s planes were in Glendale, and finally got around to developing it. This film was expired and hadn’t been kept refrigerated, so I was unsure as to whether it would be an accurate representation of the condition of the camera. I took the film to a local Walgreens and had a CD made for each roll along with the prints. FAR too expensive for the crappy quality of the printing and scanning, but after loading the negatives into my negative scanner and getting some decent scans, the verdict is — the Zeiss seems to be in perfect working condition. Amazing.

I’m in love with this thing. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s a joy to hold and work the controls on, and it takes great pictures. What more could a photographer want? I have three more rolls of old Kodak Portra 160 to use up, and then I think I’ll get some Ilford 125 for my bulk roller and some Microphen developer to play with. I plan to take the camera with me to Missouri week after next and have a great time with it. I think I’ve found my new walkaround camera.

Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film
Collings Foundation airplanes on film

New Toy!

I have to show off my new toy. Those of you who know me know I love old things, and old cameras in particular. I have a Speed Graphic 4×5 that I love to play with — it uses the F word (film). There’s just something wonderful about old cameras: the workmanship, the metal construction, the solid feel of a good one — these are things that make my world go ’round.

So here I was, wandering in a Goodwill store the other day and there in the locked case was a brown camera case. Normally, I discount cameras that are donated to Goodwill, but I decided to take a look at it, as it looked old. So I asked the lady to unlock the case and let me take a peek at it. Inside I discovered a true treasure — a rare Zeiss Contaflex IV camera from 1957-1959, in almost mint condition. The case itself is in beautiful shape, and the camera has barely a scratch on it. I’ve run two rolls of film through it and I’ll post images from it when I get them developed. I hope this thing works. It’s a beautiful thing.

BTW, I like Goodwill. They provide a great service to the community. I donate to them as often as I have stuff to donate, and I like to browse through their shelves on occasion. One never knows — one can get lucky. I did.

Contaflex IV